Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reflection: love it or leave it

This weekend, I bought a dress.

I didn't need the dress. I have a closet full of clothes. I bought the dress because, on the day before my birthday, I had a bad day.

I cried because I felt fat and unattractive and disliked and stupid. Now, I'm NOT fat and I'm sure I'm attractive to some people, and there are many people who like me and I'm actually quite smart.

I just FELT all of those things. It was a bad day.

And I didn't write about it. I went and bought a new dress. And I got my nails done. And last night I went out for my friend Tanya's birthday and wore the pretty new dress and some cute shoes and even took a handbag instead of my usual big sporty purse. I did my hair and put on makeup. I felt girly and pretty. And I helped Tanya blow out her birthday candles because I haven't had any. And I helped her eat the cake (both of them!) because I haven't had any of that either.

And this morning, I went to Starbucks and hung out there for the second day in a row, reading. It's amazing that I don't do this more often, considering that it's my favourite thing to do.

Today I read Psychology Today and it made me think about a lot of things and I need to try to capture that to let you know why I'm feeling so... I don't know, reflective, maybe.

I read about why people do personal blogs and the effect that they have. People do it to clear their minds and figure stuff out, but they also do it to be the centre of attention and tell a story to an audience. It's that audience, they caution, that causes the problem. When you blog, you know there are people on the receiving end. And your so-called "self reflection" becomes a piece of entertainment or art or a vehicle for creating a persona that you want to have. You can look as good as you want to look. The bad or guilty things you do can be written in such a way so as to look much more innocent or just funny.

Self-journalling -- the usually paper-based method that is for your eyes only -- is much less edited, more honest, and apparently more helpful for mental well-being.

It reminded me of why I love going to coffee shops and hanging out, reading and writing. I used the time to get new ideas about the world, to think about them, consider how it applies to me and my life, to reflect on what's going on in my brain and how I feel. To get perspective. I would think and I would write it down.

But I did it in conjunction with blogging. I could tell every story, there was no one I was going to hurt or make uncomfortable.

And lately it's been complicated.

I have held back. You may have noticed that I don't write as much as I once did. It's not because I don't like writing. I think it's because I'm afraid of writing. I'm gagged on certain subjects and even though I try to keep my relationship out of it in specific terms, thoughts spill out into my general ideas and of course, these thoughts are applied to my relationship and no one can help drawing conclusions.

Alex doesn't like being a public figure. I understand that. He's a private person to begin with. Very private (I'm not entirely sure why he thinks being a rock star will be a comfortable position for him, but that's his issue and not mine). But I don't know anyone who'd love being discussed in a public forum that is so one-sided and unfair.

So I try to keep him out of it. I don't always succeed.

And I haven't taken the time to sit down at the coffee shop with my journal very often either. When I do, I'm playing catch-up. Trying to get down all the events and the complaints and do I REALLY remember how I felt at that moment? I'm recreating it from my memory and we all know how accurate that is, don't we? (If you don't, then you should read another issue of Psychology Today that talks about how unreliable our emotional memory is.)

I've been wondering if maybe that's been hindering me. I've always been one to write. It really does help me figure things out and be able to look at my life like I'm looking at an object from above. Dissociated from it. It helps me make decisions, maybe not totally objectively, since it is still my life with my biases, but at least more calmly, feeling that I've had enough though about it with less emotion getting in the way.

And so today, after reading and thinking, and after yesterday when I spent a second Starbucks visit actually writing in my journal, I had a burning desire to go home and write in my blog. I have so much that wants to get out. And so much self-editing that's been going on.

I realize that much of this has been leaking out to my friends. Bless them, they've endured much moaning and lashing about the same topics over and over. Inundated with frustrated Cathy. Because, despite a counsellor (with whom I've recently broken up in favour of a new couples therapist that Alex could tolerate), I've not been able to figure stuff out on my own. Instead of dumping online or on paper, I've been dumping on the ears of the people who love me, but probably wish I would shut the hell up or get over my obsession with myself. It's been a selfish time. And don't get me wrong, I think it's important to be that kind of selfish: the kind in which you consider your reactions and life and decisions and emotions. But it should stop when it affects others and becomes an obsession.

So let me obsess here and then at least you can stop reading or skip over or whatever.

I also wonder if perhaps there is a reason that Alex is private and doesn't read my blog. Nor have a journal of his own in which he reflects on life. Sure, there are a lot of guys who don't. I know that. But I don't know if he actually talks to anyone either. About the stuff that matters. And I know he hates it when readers of my blog talk to him about the contents of my blog. He hates people knowing things about him that he doesn't control.

What I wonder is whether he doesn't actually WANT to reflect on his life. Because it might mean that he'd have to grapple with some really uncomfortable facts. And it is certainly his way to ignore difficult things and hope that they'll go away -- as is the wont of many of us.

So there, I've said something specific.

And it may be completely untrue - you are only reading my musing that came out of my reflective period at Starbucks today. And even if it's true, what does it really matter or mean?

Not a whole lot except that it makes me feel better to write it down.
So that maybe I don't need to buy myself another dress.

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